At a young age, I knew that making God the center of my future dating relationship was a high priority.
I saw the example in my parents. They didn’t have much in common when they started dating and eventually got married. They didn’t like the same music, they didn’t have the same humor or taste in movies. But they both loved and served the Lord with their whole heart — that’s where they connected.
I saw my parents pray together every day, read the Word together every morning and lead together in church. A spiritual power couple with God at the center — that’s my parents.
Growing up, I thought that if I ever dated someone, I’d want to be a power couple like that.
Once I began dating Mike, I had all these preconceived notions about what it meant to have God at the center of our relationship. I had seen my parents pray, read, worship and serve together — the perfect recipe for the Lord to be at the center, right?
There was one ingredient missing in my perfect God-centered relationship — having Christ at the center of my own life.
My perfect relationship recipe wasn’t working out.
I had all these expectations for a Christian relationship, but instead of ensuring I had a God-centered personal life, I tried to bypass that and go straight for a God-centered relationship.
When I started dating Mike, I expected him to lead us in prayer, Scripture, worship and service. I was concerned about us looking like a Christian couple. I pressured Mike to be the kind of Christian I thought he should be — hands in the air during worship, leading us in a couple’s devotional, praying and reading Scripture together daily, evangelizing together, and being in ministry together. I was so concerned about us doing all these Christian things that I progressively lost sight of the whole point in doing these things together.
Caught up with getting my perfect God-centered relationship recipe, I forgot what it’s all really about — it’s not about us, it’s about God.
You see, I believed in God and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But I was also struggling with doubt, guilt and self-righteousness — so much of what Jesus called out in the Pharisees. And I was somewhat relying on Mike to bring me closer to the Lord.
But I had to know the Lord for myself and learn what it meant to actually find purpose and freedom in Jesus. I couldn’t rely on Mike to steer me in that direction.
After much prayer, honesty, reflection and spirit-filled conversations with friends and mentors, I began to undercover the freedom we have in Christ. Not freedom from problems or doubts, but freedom from the fear of death. Freedom to love and be loved by the Creator of it all.
While I believed all that at a young age, I didn’t make that belief a priority for myself until Mike and I were almost into our third year of dating. As you can image, those first two years were a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the two of us — but the Spirit knew where we were going.
For Mike and me, once I stopped putting so much pressure on crossing off the boxes of what Christian couples are supposed to do together, we both found ourselves seeking the Lord more in our own personal lives, which echoed in our relationship together.
Our relationship began to feel natural because it wasn’t out of a desire to have the “perfect Christian relationship recipe,” but rather we had a genuine love for the Lord and made Him a priority.
What are you trying to tell me?
First, think about your life as an individual. Is God at the center of it?
Second, every relationship looks different, and having God at the center will look different for different couples. My advice is to talk about what “God at the center” actually means and looks like for you and your significant other.
That’s something Mike and I never did when we first started dating. I threw out a list of things we had to do together to fulfill our perfect relationship recipe, but we never discussed what that should look like for us as individuals and also in our relationship.
As Christians, we love to use the phrases “God-centered” and “God at the center,” (I’ve used them a bazillion times throughout this blog post), but there isn’t necessarily an objective answer to it.
In premarital counseling, our pastor said that can look a little different for each relationship. Of course, reading and praying together are beneficial, but if you don’t do that together every single day, that doesn’t mean the Lord isn’t at the center of your relationship or marriage.
I’ve learned that “God at the center” is an overall mindset and goal.
Mike and I don’t pray and read together every single day. But we talk about the Lord constantly. We bring Him into almost every conversation we have, because His presence is ever with us and we want to to talk about how His goodness interjects in our everyday lives.
We’re newly married and trying to figure out how to be a God-centered couple. What that ends up looking like for us, I’m not too sure. But we will continue to pray, serve and read together, not out of obligation, but because it gives us a greater connection to the Lord and each other.